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We may not be what we think of as first-choice candidates, but God may have the just-right job for us. 
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God’s call of Moses is recorded for us in Exodus chapter 3 and the first half of chapter 4.  Chapter 3 shows us the burning bush, God’s declaration that He has heard the groaning of the people of Israel, the revelation of the Memorial Name of the Almighty (YHWH), and the command that Moses confront Pharaoh with God’s demand for Israel’s release.

Then chapter 4, verses 1-17, seems to present to us a string of excuses made by Moses, trying to evade the command.  First, the Israelites won’t believe him.  God’s answer:  three miracles he can do to convince them.  Second, he isn’t eloquent, doesn’t speak well.  God’s answer: God made man’s mouth, eyes and ears, and He can be in Moses’s mouth and teach him to speak.

There are two ways of looking at Moses’s plea.

Moses doesn’t claim any further excuse, but he begs, “Oh my Lord, please send someone else.”  God has been happy to answer up till now, but at this point we’re told, “Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses.”

There are actually two ways of looking at Moses’s plea. Usually it’s thought he wants out of the job, i.e. “Please send someone else instead of me”.  But it could be that he’s asking, “Please send someone to go with me.”  The fact that God becomes angry makes it sound like the first of these.

However, God goes on to tell Moses that He has already planned to send a helper with Moses, and that He has already set it in motion by directing Aaron to travel to meet Moses.  Which sounds like the second possibility.

Whichever of these possibilities we lean toward, I think there are some personal lessons we can take from this whole incident.  We agree—don’t we?—that the people we encounter in scripture are there as examples, good and bad, and that we’re supposed to learn from them.  There may well be more, but here are the lessons that occur to me at the moment:

  • God calls people to His service who aren’t necessarily the first people we would think of.  At the time of this call, Moses was an 80-year-old shepherd living a couple hundred miles away from where he’s called to work, and his previous attempt to rally the Israelite slaves in Egypt was a failure. (See the second half of Exodus chapter 2, and the commentary in Acts 7:23-29.)
  • God prepares the people He calls to His service.  Moses grew up with wealth and a noble position and the best education (see Hebrews 11:24-26), was then a fugitive, and then had a 40-year career watching over a flock.  All of which prepared him for his real life’s work as a servant-leader.
  • When God calls, He provides compelling evidence it is He who is calling.  Perhaps not like the burning bush, but something to convince us.  Something like the resurrection of His Son.
  • God is able to work with us and through us, even if we don’t feel qualified.
  • God appreciates that we might be hesitant, and is patient with the objections we come up with.
  • Up to a point.  At that point, He says, “That’s enough. You have the tools you’ll need, and I’ll be with you.  Now get to work.”
  • Yet even then, if we ask for help, He will provide others to support us.  He doesn’t send us out alone.
  • Some are called young (e.g. Joseph, Jeremiah, Daniel, Mary), but some are called late in life, sometimes even after they’ve had a full career doing something else (e.g. Noah, Amos, Elizabeth, Simeon, Anna).  To his credit, Moses didn’t plead that he was too old.

We may not be called to a role as spectacular as Moses, but that doesn’t mean he’s not an example for us to learn from.  We may not be what we think of as first-choice candidates, but God may have the just-right job for us.

It’s OK to be hesitant, to need reassurance, even to ask for help.  What’s not OK is to say, “Send somebody else,” and walk away.  Whatever you may think of Moses’s excuses, he stopped, swallowed hard, and headed to Egypt to do the job.

Love, Paul


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